Foal Produced Via Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection Born

Lord Nelson, or “PICSI,” was the first foal produced via intracytoplasmic sperm injection to be born at UC Davis.

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At midnight on a warm summer evening in the barns at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), veterinary hospital, a first in equine medicine at UC Davis occurred.

As Bruce Christensen, DVM, MS, chief of the hospital’s Equine Reproduction Service, watched on, a mare gave birth to the first foal ever born at UC Davis via intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This story’s origins, however, go back almost a quarter of a century.

While raising a teenage daughter more than 20 years ago, Carol Alonso took up dressage riding with her daughter. Now 73, Alonso still rides competitively and still competes with the horse she bought 22 years ago, El Gavilan, an Andalusian. Alonso always wanted a Spanish horse, and searched far and wide to find El Gavilan. She reluctantly had him gelded shortly after purchasing him, but had the foresight to freeze some of his semen in hopes of one day finding just the right mare to match his prowess.

At 24, El Gavilan is still going strong so Alonso felt it was finally time to find a Spanish mare to breed to him. Alonso wanted a mare that could compete in the upper levels of dressage, as El Gavilan was able to accomplish. She found that match to be a tall order. Having literally searched the world over, Alonso decided to curtail her expectations a bit, and found a non-Spanish mare in Illinois that she thought would be a good match. The mare, Zholani, was half Thoroughbred and half Shire

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